Mick Abrahams is a local
legend. He played throughout the 1960s as part of various incarnations
of the The Hustlers and with Ian Anderson, was a founding member of
Jethro Tull. That sadly didn't last too long, but then formed Blodwyn
Pig. Now whilst they ended up on TOTP, the band soon parted and Mick
went on to form Wommett (who played Friars Bedford) and the Mick
Abrahams Band (who played Friars Aylesbury). Blodwyn Pig reformed in
1974 and played Friars twice and then split again. They have reformed on
and off since. Most recently they all got back together for a couple of
songs at Mick's 65th birthday party gig in Milton Keynes which was
compered by the legendary Whispering Bob Harris. Mick, was not so long
ago, a guest of Never Mind The Buzzcocks' identity parade.
In 2008, Mick released his
autobiography, 'What is a Wommett' and we caught up with him in Milton
Keynes whilst he was on his promotional tour.
All I will say is that,
having read the book, I now know what a Wommett is, it surprised me,
made me laugh (as did many of the stories in the book! Mick has a
wonderful style) and
if you want to know what it is -
then buy the book and make Mick happy! That aside, the book
concentrates more on some of the adventures of Mick's life rather than
specific musical highpoints. Along the way, you'll appreciate the
writing style and the humour.
We used to play Aylesbury, either the Assembly Hall
or the Town Hall. We used to back all the artistes of the day like Vince
Eager, Dickie Pride (both part of the Larry Parnes stable with Billy Fury, Marty
Wilde, Tommy Steele and Joe Brown - Ed). Aylesbury was a
stomping ground for us because we were Dunstable boys. We were always
the supporting band. There was always a top band. Once or twice the top
band never showed up so we would end up doing a whole evening and
backing up singers like Eager and Pride. [and] Also Mike Sarne ("Come
Outside"). So we were regulars [in Aylesbury] when we were still called
The Hustlers. We were inspired by The Shadows....pinstripe down the side
of the trousers that our mothers sewed in. Bow ties and all that
nonsense, pinkle wickers (sic). I'm sure it was Aylesbury Town Hall.
The Borough Assembly Hall was the second incarnation of Friars. The
Friarage Hall, or ex-Servicemen's Club was the first incarnation and was
I seem to remember playing there with the Mick Abrahams Band.
Going back, you were
one of the founders of Jethro Tull [with Ian Anderson] and then moved on
to Blodwyn Pig - isn't it true that the name for Blodwyn Pig came from
someone who had, shall we say, imbibed on one too many herbal
Herbal cigarettes would have been an understatement! The bloke who
gave us the name [Graham Waller], bless his heart, is probably straight
as a die now, as I am. [Waller] was an intellectual, but on the fine
cusp of madness and he never knew what day was which. Graham was the
kind of guy who would come in with a handful of all different coloured
pills. One day he had five or six different pills and said "these look
interesting.." and scoffed the lot. I said "what have you done you silly
sod?!! What's going to happen now?" "I dunno old boy, but we'll soon
find out won't we!!"" (laughs). He went all colours and started speaking
Quite strange, I
Well, it was funny, but he couldn't give a stuff.
After Blodwyn Pig
went their separate ways and you became the Mick Abrahams Band....
Well, Wommett was the first incarnation but it wasn't working.
People keep asking what is a wommett which is why I've called the book
that. People ask me and I say they have to buy the book!
I'll have to mention
on the website what a Wommett is....!
No, don't give it away!
So back in 1974, the
first reformation of Blodwyn Pig and you played Friars twice at the
Borough Assembly Hall....
That must have been with Clive Bunker on drums if it was 1974..
Yes, but then old
differences saw you split up again..... Didn't you leave the music
business for quite a while?
I went on [back] to the Mick Abrahams Band. It [ended up] with me
firing a couple of people which I didn't enjoy doing. I'd only ever
fired one guy called John Darnborough who was a lovely guy and a lovely
player but he didn't have things in order.
He was in Wommett
Yes he was, and it was after that that we had the Mick Abrahams Band
in its various formats culminating in the three piece. [around this
time] it got too much and did my head in and I went home one night and
cried. It got too much for me and I was on the cusp on packing up. I
just about held it together (mentally) but I said "bollocks, I've had
enough of this, enough of Chrysalis, enough of the business" and that
was it, the shop's closed, the shutters are down, I'm sticking my guitar
up in the loft and it's staying there for a year. I meant it when I said
it, but after about four weeks....
You got it down
Yeah, I couldn't resist it! Probably two months tops, I got it down
and started playing it again. But I did all sorts of things for a while.
I was, and still am, a regular swimmer and a guy at the pool said
"You're always here, why not work here and you can swim as much as you
like for free! You could be a lifesaver and get paid for it" I
thought, I'll have some of that, so I did that and then I was poached by
another leisure centre who asked if I had ever done swimming pool
management - that's a leap for a lifeguard! I said no, but I was a quick
learner so I got the job. It was a normal job. I have a low boredom
threshold. I was also selling second hand cars and selling life
assurance. But I was still playing during that time in a semi-pro
capacity. Then I thought you're older and wiser to deal with things now,
so I got back into music full time sometime around the mid 1980s.
Blodwyn Pig got reformed on a whim after we got pissed up one night....
But I guess you were
all older and wiser and put any differences away....
Yeah, we put life behind us, we soldiered on and got on with it.
And you had a great
Yes we had a great time and I'm still looking forward to more good
times. We had the 65th birthday party and just released the double CD of
that which is absolutely excellent and the best live CD I've ever done.
The 65th birthday
(which regrettably I couldn't go to because of holidays) was as I far as
I can see a great time had by all...
Not just a great time, but THE best time I've ever had.
And you got Blodwyn
Pig back together....
For two numbers, yes.
FAW: And Bob Harris paid
Yes, he compered the show and writes in the foreword of the book
that he is writing that as he is about to go onstage to compere my
And one of your
contemporaries, Paul Jones was there
I'd never played with him before, but I've always been friendly with
Paul and loved what's he done. He's a supreme harmonica player.
I did see him with
The Blues Band at Friars and yes......
He is in Larry Adler's league and Larry Adler to me, was probably
the greatest expert in harmonica I ever heard...and he could play
everything...with heart and soul and that was no mean feat. Paul exudes
that lovely confidence that Larry has.
So you've had your
65th birthday party.....
Yes, if you exclude the few years I had the hump with it although I
was still playing, I have been in the business 45-50 years.
Including those days
as a life guard...
Yes, I was still playing 2-3 gigs a week. In fact, I was playing
more then than when I was doing it for a living!
I guess if you hadn't
fallen out of love with music.......
I've never fallen out of love with music, ever. I fell out of love
with the business. I wasn't well equipped to deal with the kind of
knocks I was getting. Musicians are not special people, but they are a
breed apart. The last people who should turn people over or get turned
over are musicians or those from the performing arts...but that's maybe
a naive point of view.
But you're not the
only one to be disillusioned with the music business or particularly
It's the record companies. They're not there for the musicians.
A lot of the time,
they just see things as a money making exercise....
Yes, and they see people in the performing arts as an easy touch.
Someone who's set up a bookshop like this (where we are conducting this
interview) will be a tougher cookie to crack. That's the way of the
A lot bands, as they
get older and wiser, manage to take complete control....
That is very true and I wish them 100% success. But they need to be
wary as they ever were because the crims (criminals) and the nasties
will have got smarter too - they only want to take and not give. I want
to give. I want to take something too, as I'm not a fool.
During our conversation,
Mick breaks off several times to sign copies of his book and it is clear
from the fans talking to him that Mick has been a big influence on them
and he appears flattered that he regularly gets complimentary emails
about his own style. He is modest and a great raconteur.
As far as Mick
Abrahams 2008 is concerned, you're still going strong in the business
and playing. I noticed your website... and a huge testimony to your
music is that your website has had over 900,000 visitors which is
astonishing. In fact astonishing for any website
I'm also astonished to find out that if you Google me, and take out
the anomalies there are something crazy like 198,000 references to
Some of those
will be the Friars Aylesbury website! You're referenced quite a few
times...! I've also noticed of late, well the last few years, that
you've been playing with Ian Anderson again.
Yeah, all the hoo-hah between me and him ended about a year after me
leaving the band (Jethro Tull). I don't think Ian's ever hated anyone -
neither have I - but I was mad [at the time] at him. We've spoken about
it since and [it was dealt with] a long long time ago.
Did you have
cause to leave the band?
I felt I was ousted. I left the band - I gave my notice as it was
doing nobody any favours, so I tried to do it in a nice way..
The conversation broke
here, but Mick makes it clear in his book that despite giving his
notice, he was sacked from Jethro Tull.
But me and Ian made it up after that. We sat down, recently, about
DVD interviews and a couple of ex-members of Tull made [in my opinion]
untruthful references to me and Ian within Tull. Ian wasn't having any
of it and was most gracious about my departure and conceded that they
plotted behind my back and always hoped there wasn't any deep burning
resentment. When I was interviewed for the DVD, I specifically said
there was no hatred or resentment, so that completely cleared the air. I
have always, and always will, respect Ian.
So, despite the
anger in [the way] you left Jethro Tull, you and Ian have really always
been on good terms..
We don't live out of each other's pockets, we're not the same
people. But he is an honest man. All sorts of people have come up to me
to "get me onside" including a couple of ex-members of Jethro Tull for
their own reasons, financial or otherwise. People have said "you know
what he's like...." I've said [to those people] "it's your beef with
Ian, don't try to bring me onside and start a war, I'm not interested"
You call it as
you see it - you get on with the guy.
Ian's been nothing but honest with me. Yes, we had a bad time. But
what I truly believe is that Ian did what he had to do and I did what I
had to do. What I didn't approve of is the method. I do truly agree that
I was not to be a future asset to Jethro Tull because it wasn't me. Ian
was proven right and I respect him for that. I still think to this day,
that the problem was the management that split that band. As I found out
this year, the same guy was instrumental in breaking up Blodwyn Pig!
Draw your own conclusion from that statement....
At least at
this stage of your life, there's no bad blood with Ian
Not at all. I really enjoy playing with the old boy. I enjoy his
company, he's a very witty gut with a dry sense of humour. Of nearly all
the people who say bad things about him, I know him a lot better than a
lot of these people
many rockers who play a flute...
No - he's a complete contradiction in terms! any why not !
It must have been
pretty much Ian Anderson and Thijs van Leer from Focus who were using
flutes in rock music [at that time]
You're still gigging as we
go in to 2009 and I think people reading this interview on the Friars
Aylesbury website will be pleased you are still going strong and
gigging. I think your story......
They'll have to find out by buying the book!
..and people WILL
find out exactly what a Wommett is!
It's got to be done!
thank you very much.
God bless you mate - I really appreciate it.
Mick's official website
This interview and its
content are © 2009 Mike O'Connor/www.aylesburyfriars.co.uk and may not
be used in whole or in part without permission.